Along with potatoes and fishing, Idaho is famous for its stunning landscape and outdoor recreation. The state contains over ten diverse ecoregions, each housing unique plant and animal species.

Among these animals are some genuinely speedy creatures on land and in the air. While this list is not extensive, it looks at some extraordinary animals within the state’s boundaries. Discover the fastest animals in Idaho, including where to find them and why they are so swift.

Appaloosa Horse

close up of an Appaloosa with head turned
The Appaloosa can run over 55 miles per hour for at least a quarter mile and are excellent for sports, especially barrel racing.

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The Appaloosa is an American-bred horse famous for its spotted coat. It is Idaho’s state horse and has been around since the 1700s when the Nez Perce tribe began breeding it for hunting and fishing. Today you can find them on ranches throughout Idaho and other states. Appaloosa horses are beautiful, swift, agile, and one of the fastest species in the world. They can run over 55 miles per hour for at least a quarter mile and are excellent for sports, especially barrel racing. These athletic horses are built for speed, and their long, muscular legs help propel them forward.

Woodland Caribou

Woodland caribou are a subspecies of reindeer native to Canada. They move back and forth to Idaho, where the state is dedicated to preserving its boreal forest habitat. Adults measure 4.6 feet at the shoulder and weigh up to 500 pounds. But despite their impressive size, these caribou are pretty swift, running up to 50 miles per hour. Their muscular bodies and strong hooves allow them to reach intense speeds. They are also elusive, moving frequently and speedily taking off when danger is nearby. 

Ring-Necked Duck

The ring-necked duck is a striking black and grey bird that reside across most of Idaho from Marsh to November before migrating to its winter habitats. These diving ducks are from North America and inhabit freshwater ponds and lakes. They are solid and fast fliers, reaching an average of 40 to 60 miles per hour. Their max speeds have yet to be calculated, but many ducks can reach 100 mph. Unlike most diving ducks who need a takeoff run, this species can lift off vertically by springing out of the water. They use their impeccable flying skills to travel long distances and escape predators.

The Fastest Animal in Idaho: The Wolverine

World's Scariest Animal: Wolverines
Wolverines are great climbers and they are often seen resting in the evergreen trees of their forest homes.

Wolverines are the most prominent members of the weasel family and are widely distributed across Canada and Alaska, with scattered populations in the lower 48. These solitary animals need lots of land and snow to survive and can be found in Idaho’s national forests. Wolverines are ferocious, muscular creatures who chase their prey through frozen wilderness, reaching up to 30 miles per hour. They also sit in trees and pounce on animals, and if they need to pursue on foot, their large paws spread as they hit the ground and support their weight. You could outrun a wolverine if in excellent shape, but even then, it would be a close call!

Grizzly Bear

The grizzly bear is a subspecies of brown bear inhabiting North America. Around 60 to 80 grizzlies live in the mountains of Idaho, primarily in the northern portion of the state and areas in the east near Yellowstone National Park. Adult males can grow over six feet tall and weigh upwards of 700 pounds. But surprisingly, they can move their enormous bodies at impressive speeds. A grizzly bear can run up to 40 miles per hour at a full sprint. However, he can’t maintain this rate for long. But their average speed is still faster than the average human, so don’t try to outrun one!

Fastest Animal in Idaho: The Prairie Rattlesnake

The prairie rattlesnake is a venomous pit viper native to the western United States and Mexico. This dangerous species is active year-round in east-central Idaho, where it inhabits open prairies, grasslands, and semi-desert shrublands. These snakes move at an average rate of eight feet per second, which translates to five miles per hour. But they are also capable of short bursts of speed when striking, reaching up to 18 miles per hour. It may seem frightening to think of a snake moving that swiftly, but humans can easily outrun them. Other creatures, however, are not as fortunate. Snakes have high-performance muscles which allow them to slither across the ground and strike unsuspecting prey quickly.

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain bluebirds are small migratory thrushes found in mountainous areas of western North America. They live in forests, valleys, and open ridges throughout the Idaho mountains, often 4,000 feet in elevation or higher. Birds are some of the fastest animals on the planet, and while bluebirds may not be the fastest, they certainly reach impressive rates. The mountain bluebird can fly between 15 and 20 miles per hour while migrating or fleeing danger. This species flies low to the ground with super fast irregular patterns.

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